5 Chromebook Productivity Tips

Important Chromebook settings, Chrome OS apps, and more

The Chromebook has become one of the most widely-used laptops on the planet. With good reason: They’re simple to use, reliable, fast, and don’t suffer under the weight of viruses and malware.

But for those who depend on their mobile devices for substantial productivity, how can you make that Chrome OS laptop work more efficiently? Here are five Chrome OS productivity tips that will go a long way to helping you become more prolific with your Chromebook.

Work With Google Drive While Offline

If there’s one major misconception about the Chromebook, it’s that it cannot work without a network connection. The ability to function offline is crucial, especially for those who travel with their Chromebooks or find themselves in situations where there’s no internet connection. How do you ensure you can work with your Chromebook when you don’t have a network connection? It’s quite simple. Follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your Chromebook is connected to a wireless network.

  2. Open Chrome and point it to the Google Docs Offline extension.

  3. Select Add to Chrome.

    The Add to Chrome button in the Chrome web store
  4. When prompted, select Add extension.

    The "Add Extension" button in Chrome Web Store
  5. Go to drive.google.com/drive/my-drive and click the Settings gear.

    The Settings gear in Google Drive
  6. Select Settings.

    Settings in Google Drive
  7. Select the checkbox for the Offline option.

    The Offline option in Settings
  8. Select Done.

You can now work with Google Drive while offline.

Pin Apps to the Taskbar

Like most operating systems, you can pin apps to your Chromebook taskbar. It's much more efficient to launch those apps (instead of going through the Menu to find them). To pin an app to the taskbar, follow these steps:

  1. Select the menu button in the bottom-left corner of the desktop.

    The Menu button in a Chromebook
  2. Select the upward-pointing arrow to open the application overview.

    The Up arrow in the Chromebook menu
  3. Locate the app in question, two-finger tap the application’s launcher and select Pin to shelf.

    The "Pin to shelf" command in Chrome OS
  4. Enjoy faster access to that application.

Add a Website Shortcut to the Taskbar

Similar to adding apps to the taskbar, you can also add specific websites to the taskbar, and even add them to run in their application window (as opposed to a tab in Chrome). This option is convenient when you have a site you frequently use for productivity (say a CMS tool, your banking site, or social media site). Here are the steps to make this happen:

  1. Open the site in question in Chrome.

  2. Select the Chrome menu button and go to More tools > Create shortcut.

    The Create Shortcut command in Chrome
  3. In the resulting window, give the shortcut a name, select the box for Open as window, and choose Create.

The above steps will not only create the shortcut but will pin the shortcut to the taskbar. When you click that shortcut, it will open the site added in its particular app window (without the standard toolbars and other features of the regular Chrome browser).

Use the Overview

Your Chromebook includes an overview feature that will display a thumbnail of each of your currently running apps/windows. To use this feature, tap the square button with the two vertical lines.

The Overview allows you to select which app you want to work with (by clicking the app in question) or closing an app/window (by clicking the associated X in the upper right corner of the app/window in question).

Dictate to Google Docs

Google has one of the best speech-to-text engines on the market, and you can take advantage of that by dictating your work into Google Docs for hands-free writing. To make this happen, you must first enable the on-screen keyboard. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Select the system tray at the bottom right corner of the desktop.

    The hub on a Chromebook
  2. Select the gear icon.

    The Settings icon on a Chromebook
  3. Scroll to the bottom and choose Advanced.

    Advanced in Chromebook settings
  4. Scroll down to Accessibility and select Manage accessibility features.

    The "Manage Accessibility Features" option in Chromebook settings
  5. Scroll down and select the On/Off slider for Enable on-screen keyboard to the On position.

    The switch for "Enable on-screen keyboard" in Chromebook settings
  6. Close the Settings window.

Now open Google Drive, create a new document, and follow these steps:

  1. On the taskbar (at the bottom of the window), select the keyboard icon to reveal the on-screen keyboard.

    The Keyboard button on a Chromebook
  2. Select the mic icon.

    The microphone icon on the Chrome OS keyboard
  3. Start dictating your text.

Enjoy Better Productivity on Your Chromebook

With these five quick tips, you should experience a much more efficient level of productivity on your Chromebook. Never let anyone tell you again that a Chromebook is nothing more than a web browser.